The Christmas tree in the square is gone. I think students return to school on Monday so the skateboarders won’t be running their wheels up the side of the fountain in the afternoons anymore. Buses continue to appear releasing German, Japanese and Italian tourists – though I think that may dribble down to nothing pretty soon. Some of the restaurants that we discovered have closed for a month or more; Kantinon (my favorite right now), the Germanish Gasthaus around the corner from us, Veli Joze, the restaurant below us that we began to hate because of it’s thumping base (and not great food). Though we might miss Veli Joze a bit since when they were open the heat from their place rose and heated our apartment quite nicely.
One of the requirements for living out of America is a visa. We understood that we would need to leave Croatia every 90 days in order to get re-stamped, thus giving us another 90 days. Turns out, we may not have been as well informed as we thought. We aren’t supposed to stay beyond 90 days in any 6 month period. So now we are faced with a dilemma. Pretend ignorance – leave, get re-stamped and hope that no one checks our papers during the next 90. Then, when we leave in April, hope no one notices that we’ve been here as long as we have … or … get a residence visa, which requires that we have documents that we don’t have with us translated into Croatian. Not going to happen.
R takes all of this in stride. I, on the other hand am in a flap. I feel all of my immigrant history (though I’m the only one in my family born in the states) rise to the surface. I have this awful fear that we’ll be deported, jailed, not allowed to leave the country when it comes time. Last night I had a dream that I was put into a Croatian women’s jail – something to do with kidnapping Bosnians. I want to carry my passport with me when I go to buy bread and I’m collecting five Kuna pieces to sew into the hem of my clothes. Okay that last bit isn’t true but it feels like it could be. I’ve tucked all my jewelry into one pouch so that I can grab it should we need to flee.
I learned that last one from my mother. Once when she came to visit me in Madison she carried an enormous purse, not remarkable in and of itself, but when I found out later that it’s weight was due to the amount of gold jewelry she was toting I was shocked.
Me: “Mom, why on earth are you carrying all this stuff?”
Her: “You never know when you might need gold.”
Though I’ve never been displaced by war, jailed for being “other” or tormented for not conforming (well, in high school, but who hadn’t been?), located somewhere in my psyche is the notion that it’s all possible and the only way to survive is to be prepared. This points up some of the fundamental differences between R and me. He assumes that he is welcome everywhere, more than welcome; wanted, adored even. I tend to walk into situations with more caution, expecting the worst and pleasantly surprised when things go well. We both like to prepare, check facts, but when he finds out he’s wrong he takes it in stride. When I find out I’m wrong I imagine the worst possible outcomes, causing massive amounts of anxiety, becoming compulsive about ways to avoid the imagined horrible consequences.
I’m somewhere in the middle right now – a little anxious, spending way too much time checking out the internet for the rules and skimming articles I find about what happens when you don’t follow them. Deportation, fines, big red stamps on your passport saying “illegal immigrant!”- these are just a few of the consequences.
My task today is to make reservations for an overnight to Bihac (say that out loud – yes, that’s right). When we return we’ll re-register in Rovinj – then we’ll know if the next few months are here or … deported to Sarajevo, Istanbul, Morocco – then I’ll see you later.